Last week I was briefed by Internet security software company Trend Micro on its new email archive offering, dubbed the Trend Micro Message Archiver, which was launched Monday.
The product, from a storage geek’s point of view, is about as bleeding-edge as its name. It has the usual checklist items we’ve been hearing about from earlier arrivals to this market, from indexing to .pst import. The product also does MD5 hashing for content-addressed storage, etc. At some points it feels like the email archiving players have all seen a Chinese menu somewhere, and they pick and choose certain features. There’s a superset of common product features so ubiquitous in that market it’s begun to feel commoditized.
What captured my attention when it came to TMMA isn’t the product but who’s offering it. Trend Micro is a 20-year-old, global, $848 million-a-year company. Since 2004, MSN Hotmail has been using Trend Micro to scan messages and attachments in its users’ accounts.
The first thing this means is that the product will be integrated as it matures with TM’s access controls, anti-spam and anti-virus filters, email certification and encryption features. Trend Micro’s not alone in this kind of integration (Lucid8 and others jump to mind), but they are pretty unique in terms of their size and brand recognition. And the times I’ve stepped out of my little storage-centric cave and spoken with people in adjacent markets–like, say, the e-discovery and legal compliance folks–I’ve heard many of them say that the storage guys aren’t getting it in some areas, like evidentiary standards that may apply to emails in court beyond what most email archivers offer today. It might be that a little expertise from other markets is what these products need.
This also might be where this new wave of non-storage vendors like Trend Micro making forays into the storage market will find a way to add value. For security-concerned customers, the TM product could offer a focus on security integration, delivery from an already-trusted vendor, and the ever-popular ‘one throat to choke’ as well.
But then again, the ultimate purpose of the product is to store and protect email data. The security features are nice, but secondary to the main function of the product. And many storage admins would probably rather go with a vendor that has experience in the core feature of the product, which is data protection.
I’m also seeing this dichotomy emerge in another hot market–storage SaaS. In that market, there are also new offerings from experienced storage players competing against new ‘one stop shop’ offerings from adjacent players–EMC’s Fortress vs. new backup and hosted storage offerings from data center service providers like The Planet and Savvis.
I, for one, am curious to see which model users will find preferable as overlaps grow between the different disciplines of IT. Which will be more important: focus, as in focus on the existing relationship with the customer and consolidated vendor relationships, or experience, in designing and supporting storage products?